ALL-CENTRAL COAST SECTION
Player of the Year
KAIJAE YEE-STEPHENS, SANTA CRUZ
By RYAN SILAPAN
Kaijae Yee-Stephens has long been considered a big fish in a small pond throughout his time at Santa Cruz High.
But this year, the 6-foot-2 senior basketball player’s game went unmatched regardless of the competition as Yee-Stephens joined some rather elite company in Aaron Gordon, Trevor Dunbar and Ben Kone.
Yee-Stephens led the Central Coast Section in points, averaging 26.6 and also averaged 7.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game to become the first non-West Catholic Athletic League player
to be named the Prep2Prep CCS Player of the Year for the 2015-16 season.
“It’s amazing to be in that company,” Yee-Stephens said of joining Gordon, Dunbar and Kone as previous CCS Player of the Year winners. “It’s just good to know that all the hard work paid off and to get
that recognition means a lot. It lets me know that I am a high caliber type of player.”
This year Yee-Stephens captured his second Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League Most Valuable Player award, led Santa Cruz to its third straight SCCAL title and fourth straight NorCal playoff appearance.
Since his freshman year, Yee-Stephens played on the varsity roster.
Santa Cruz coach Lawan Milhouse, who has been the head coach the past two years before previously serving as an assistant during Yee-Stephen’s first two years, says he has that constant drive to
always want to get better.
“He has always had the drive and work ethic ever since I’ve known him,” Milhouse said. “At one time the only thing he could do was shoot the ball and he worked on his game that much more every year
in and out to become a more rounded all-around player.”
After losing in the first round of the NorCal playoffs in each of the previous three years, Yee-Stephens did everything in his power to prevent that from happening this year and in the process
put on a show that had to seen.
The senior tied his season-high with 45 points with five rebounds and seven assists in a 78-62 win over visiting Arcata in a NorCal Division IV opening-round game.
Yee-Stephens exploded in the first half, scoring 32 of his 45 points on 11-of-14 shooting. In that game, Yee-Stephens also surpassed the 2,000-career points plateau.
Arcata coach Ryan Bisio, a Santa Cruz County native, had heard about Yee-Stephens, but couldn’t believe the performance.
“We got beat tonight by a player who’s unbelievable,” Bisio said after the game. “His performance tonight was one of the best I’ve ever seen in my life. We just couldn’t endure his brilliance tonight.”
In his final game for the Cardinals - an 84-63 loss to Central Catholic in the second round - Yee-Stephens scored 40 points.
This season Yee-Stephens had five 40-point games and six 30-point games. He even left an impression on the CCS Open Division champions St. Francis.
In the opening round of the CCS Open Division playoffs, top-seeded St. Francis trailed Santa Cruz for most of the game before making a miraculous comeback in the last two minutes of the game
to force overtime before ultimately beating the heavy underdog Cardinals.
“He’s a very humble kid and as a coach he’s a blessing to have,” Milhouse said. “Sometimes you have kids when you have the talent that he has they feel like they don’t really need a coach but he’s
probably one of the most coachable kids and one of the best teammates you are going to have.”
In that game, Yee-Stephens scored 26 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, had three assists, two steals and two blocks and earned heavy praise from the Lancers.
The Southern Utah signee said playing the top-ranked team in the CCS showed that he can indeed play with and play at a high level against some of the best competition the state had to offer as
St. Francis went into the game ranked No. 6 in the state.
“It’s kind hard to tell playing in the SCCAL,” Yee-Stephens said. “It’s kind of hard to tell how good I am against upper tier competition but I got a sense of that when we played St. Francis.
We held our own pretty well and it let me know that I am a pretty good player and that we could play with the best of them.”
Yee-Stephens, who has been known to stay after practice for hours to work on his game, is even more diligent in the classroom, where he currently has a 4.1 grade-point average.
Yee-Stephens credited his strong with work ethic to his parents Reggie Stephens and Desiree Yee.
Reggie Stephens — who played cornerback for five seasons for the New York Giants in the NFL — along with Desiree installed a strong work ethic in Yee-Stephens, who said he’s a student-athlete - with
the emphasis on student.
“My mom makes it a priority that I get my school work done first,” Yee-Stephens said. “Student-athlete and student always comes first. It’s always important because you never known when your last
game is going to be, so it’s always good to know there’s grades to fall back on. Once you establish that first then everything is good after that.”
The usually soft spoken Yee-Stephens wanted to be sure to thank many of the people that helped get him to where he is now after hearing he won the Prep2Prep CCS Player of the Year award.
From his former coaches, AAU travel ball teams to family, Yee-Stephens wanted to thank them all.
“It’s endless the amount of people that have helped me,” he said. “Training with the Golden State Arsenal, West Valley Basketball, Hand Down Man Down AAU team, Pat Jones, coach Milhouse, the
variety of assistant coaches I’ve had.
“Zeeboo Gouldon, our film guy, my mom for being there from day one allowing me to be the great kid I am today, my dad for basically taking me wherever for basketball and always being there and
teaching me right from wrong and teaching me how to work hard. My grandparents, who are pretty much all here, so I got really lucky and they are so supportive. The list goes on.”
For Yee-Stephens, his numbers don’t do him complete justice.
A 4.1 student, a very well mannered soft spoken kid who continues to only get better both on the court and in the classroom.
A player his teammates love, his coaches love to coach and for those that get to know him a person you can’t say one bad thing about.
“The only thing I can control is how hard I work,” Yee-Stephens said. “I’m going to work as hard as I can, I believe if I work as hard as I can something good will work out for me whether it be
academic or another opportunity in basketball. I can always control how good my attitude is and how well I do in school.”
Coach of the Year
MIKE MOLIERI, MENLO-ATHERTON
Mike Molieri led Menlo-Atherton to a league title and a trip to the NorCal title game.
By RYAN SILAPAN
Mike Molieri had a feeling the Menlo-Atherton High boys basketball team was going to be good this season. Just how good, though, was up in the air.
With a strong group of seniors and a junior who would go onto garner Peninsula Athletic League South Division Most Valuable Player honors, the fourth-year head coach of the Bears led
M-A to its best season since 1989.
M-A went a perfect 12-0 in PAL play and reached its first NorCal title game in 27 years. As a result of his team's success, Molieri is the 2015-16 Prep2Prep Central Coast Section Coach of the Year.
“It’s a nice honor,” Molieri said. “It was an exceptional year. The team’s body of work speaks for itself — best record since 1989 — nothing but praises for this team and I’m definitely going
to miss these seniors. They’ve set the bar so far the future teams at M-A.”
M-A went 28-5 and had its most wins since the Bears made consecutive trips to the NorCal title game in 1988 and 1989.
Menlo-Atherton avenged a loss to Half Moon Bay, 45-27, to win the PAL Tournament title.
What made the Bears so difficult to defend this year is they had four different players average in double figure scoring this season.
PAL MVP Eric Norton, Blake Henry and the Fioretti twins — Lucas and Christian — all averaged between 10 and 12 points this season.
“It wasn’t challenging to have four players average around 10-12 points a game for the season,” Molieri said. “They weren’t interested in individual awards, but more of the team award and team goals.”
For Molieri this year was special because this was the first freshman class to go through the program under him.
In that first season, M-A went 11-15 including a first-round playoff loss.
Fast forward to this season and the Bears won their most games since 1989, went through the PAL undefeated, won a CCS Open Division consolation game and advanced to the NorCal title game.
“The whole team was special but specifically the seniors,” Molieri said. “Their commitment to the program and since I’ve been here this was the first group to go through the program. It’s
great to see their success show in what a great season we had.”
In the NorCal playoffs, the Bears got their revenge against another CCS opponent that had beaten them in the preseason.
The Bears suffered their first defeat on Dec. 11 when Bellarmine defeated M-A 58-57 in San Jose.
M-A and Bellarmine squared off again in San Jose three months later in the California Interscholastic Federation NorCal Division I playoff semifinals.
The Bears entered as the No. 5 seed against the top-seeded Bells and avenged their early-season defeat with a 50-46 win to reach the NorCal title game.
Molieri said it started back in early November that M-A thought this year could be special.
Molieri would talk individually to his players and see what he wanted to accomplish this season and the Bears were not brash.
“The kids thought big and dreamed big so great things happened,” Molieri said. “Compliment to those seniors to have such high goals of themselves.”
Compliment to coach Molieri as well the 2015-16 Prep2Prep CCS Coach of the Year.
Senior of the Year
JAMES KELBERT, LELAND
The senior took home BVAL-Mt. Hamilton Division Most Valuable Player honors as he led Leland every major offensive category. Kelbert led the Chargers in points (23), rebounds (13), assists (3.7) and steals (2.7).
Junior of the Year
JAMAREE BOUYEA, PALMA
Bouyea emerged to become the hands down best player in Monterey County, leading Palma with over 18 points a game while leading the team assists, steals and 3-pointers made as Palma made its
first CIF state title game appearance since 1993.
Sophomore of the Year
DYLAN BELQUIST, LOS GATOS
Belquist was named the Prep2Prep Freshman of the Year last year and he didn’t have a sophomore slump in capturing Sophomore of the Year honors. Belquist was a first-team SCVAL-De Anza selection and
led the Wildcats with 19.3 points per game and also pulled down 7.3 rebounds a game.
FIRST TEAM ALL-CCS
Kaijae Yee-Stephens, Santa Cruz
Yee-Stephens was named the SCCAL Most Valuable Player for the second time in his career and led the CCS in scoring this season, averaging over 26.6 points per game including a 45- and 40-point
performance in Santa Cruz’s two NorCal playoff games.
Jake Killingsworth, Serra
Killingsworth garnered WCAL Player of the Year honors this past season. The senior led a balanced Padres scoring attack scoring averaging over 14 points per game and had three double-doubles
and a near triple-double in Serra’s first-ever state title playoff run.
Jamaree Bouyea, Palma
Bouyea garnered Monterey Bay League-Gabilan Division MVP honors this past season in leading Palma to its first state title game appearance since 1993. Bouyea averaged over 18 points a game this season
and also led the Chieftains in assists, steals and 3-pointers made.
James Kelbert, Leland
Kelbert was a double-double machine again for Leland in earning Blossom Valley Athletic League-Mt. Hamilton Division MVP honors. Kelbert averaged 23.7 points and 13 rebounds a game this year for the Chargers.
SECOND TEAM ALL-CCS
Curtis Witt, St. Francis
Witt earned first-team all-WCAL honors for the second straight year for the Lancers, who went a perfect 14-0 in WCAL play this season and captured the program's first CCS Open Division title. Witt lands
on the second-team despite not starting a single game all season.
THIRD TEAM ALL-CCS
Brad Sendell, Pacific Grove
Sendell earned Mission Trail Athletic League MVP in leading the Breakers to their first CCS D-IV title since 1998 and their third straight MTAL title - the last two of which were outright championships.
Sendell averaged nearly 18 points per game and led PG in 3s, assists and steals.
Vinny Ferrari, Burlingame
Ferrari was a first-team PAL South Division selection for a second straight season. Ferrari led the Panthers in scoring averaging over 22 points per game while also averaging over eight rebounds,
four assists and two steals a game.
Jeremiah Testa, Serra
Testa was a first-team all-WCAL selection for a balanced Serra team that captured the first state title in program history. Testa was the second leading scorer on the Padres, forming a solid 1-2
combo with WCAL Player of the Year Jake Killingsworth.
Jessy Hurtado, Darwin Ongy, Rene Hurtado
BELLARMINE COLLEGE PREP:
Angelo Athens, Jake Wojcik
John Stivers, Dylan Riley
Sukhraj Bains, Christopher Habash, Dominic Simpkins
Mrad Abrha, Isaiah Carmicle-Foster
Jeffrey Lee-Heidenreich, Jonathan Davis
HALF MOON BAY:
Dweezyl Guitang, Ryan Ramirez
Josh Kim, Luke Rohrer
Lucas Fioretti, Christian Fioretti
MONTE VISTA CHRISTIAN:
Ryan De Los Santos, Jimmy Daniels
Beattie Roggasch III, Jacob Lout
NORTH MONTEREY COUNTY:
Jordan Graves, Jeremy Heitzman
Zach Miller, Chip Wagner
Matt Baity, Grant Ford
Lucas Swidler, Nemanja Rajic, Blake Uyehara
SACRED HEART PREP:
Mason Randall, Andrew Daschbach
Nat Hunsdorfer, LaRon Logwood
SAN LORENZO VALLEY:
Keanon Williams, Darnell White
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO:
Amir Boddie, Romel Green
Guiseppe Benedetti, Peter Hewitt
ST. FRANCIS CCC:
Sandor Rene Rodriquez
THE KING'S ACADEMY: